Islands Prides Itself on Customer Service, Eventually…

There’s a few emails sitting in our inbox from people with reports of positive customer service. They await the bile to drain from our lymph nodes or for a forest pixie to come up and toss our salad, something to get us to put down the rug we gnaw at feverishly to vent our consumer rage.

To that end, we’ve got this letter from Billy who went to Island restaurants, which is said to pride itself on high customer service. Needless to say, the customer service was substandard. The manager apologized profusely, comped the meal and gave them a $40 gift card for the next time Billy and Billy’s boyfriend want to satisfy their craving for a ‘Big Wave Burger’ or ‘Wiqi Waqi BBQ Chicken Salad.’

Is this good customer service, or Stockholm syndrome? Doesn’t good customer service mean getting it right the first time?

Sidebar question: who eats two pounds of fries?

Hey Ben, et. al.,

“My boyfriend and I went to dinner at Islands (http://www.islandsrestaurants.com/) on Sunday for dinner. We had a coupon from a mail flyer for 2 pounds of free fries. We were seated quickly and our server came over quickly to take our order: two waters, two burgers, and the free fries. He was a little slow returning with the water, but whatever, right?

A few minutes later, he comes back to tell us that they’re out of fries, so he gives us back our original coupon plus two more for free fries. Score, right? It gets better. It took forever for us to get our food. When we did, a different server brought it to us and notified us (again) that they were out of fries but she could bring us an order of onion rings. So we got those. Unfortunately, we had no ketchup and desperately needed more napkins and water. Our server was nowhere to be found.

Eventually we were able to flag down another server to bring us those. We still didn’t see our actual server again until he threw the check on the table without saying a word. We were both really dissatisfied with the service, but we had planned to just pay the tab and leave him a bad tip — along the lines of 50 cents. Normally, I tip at least 15 percent or $3, bare minimum, whichever is less; this time, though, we had truly horrible service. Oh, and did I mention my medium-well burger was actually medium-rare?

So after I plopped my debit card onto the tray, I waited for him to pick it up. He walked right by our table without even looking at us. That was the final straw. We stood up to find a manager at the host stand, but just about that time, she walked by our table carrying 7 or 8 glasses. I got her attention and told her that we needed to discuss our service, but that if she needed to drop those off first then to go ahead.

She came back in about 30 seconds and asked us what was the problem. We explained about the horrible service. She said that our server was actually one of their “more experienced, veteran” servers, and that they really pride themselves on attentiveness at Islands. She apologized for the service and said that she would personally have a talk with him about it. She asked if we had already paid our check and I said no. She said it was on her. Beyond that, she even gave us a gift card to come back and make sure that the service was better the next time. That really shocked me, but when she brought the gift card back to the table and said that she had loaded it with $40, I was flabbergasted!

I can honestly say that we will go back to Islands — that particular one, especially — because our issues were addressed, in a very friendly and kind way at that. I hadn’t asked for the gift card, or even the comped meal, but the manager there took the extra step to make things right, even when she didn’t have to do so.

The store was Islands Mission Valley at 2441 Fenton Parkway, San Diego, California.

-Billy”